Search Engine Optimization News, Tips and Information

Information on search engine optimization strategies for business.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Bing vs. Google for Breaking News Stories

I read an article this morning which made the claim that Bing does not produce results as fresh as Google and therefore favors aged pages or sites at the expense of fresh content. I decided to do a side by side comparison of the two engines to test this out myself, using 3 unrelated breaking news queries and the comparison tool Bingle. The queries I randomly chose were "Sonia Sotomayor", "Air France Crash", and "U.S. Unemployment Rate". Based on this limited scope test, Bing topped Google in freshness, presentation, and blended results, although Google edged out Bing in organic relevancy.



Search Query: "Sonia Sotomayor"

bing vs. google

Bing Results:

Bing places the most recent news articles at the top of the search results, with the most recent news article being less than 1 hour old. It includes an image result at the top, to the right of the news results, so that the user can see a picture of Justice Sotomayor. Below the news results are organic web results beginning with Wikipedia then an article from a newspaper which was written on May 27, 2009.

Google Results:

Googlepedia includes its requisite first position Wikipedia listing, which is followed by a .gov link from the Federal Judicial Center that nobody will read, followed by a newspaper article dated May 1, 2009 (26 days older than the first organic newspaper article in Bing) which is provided both a main listing and an indented listing. Only after these four entries does Google provide its fresh news results, with the latest news article being 2 hours old (1 hour older than the freshest Bing news result). No other blended results, including images, are provided.

And the winner is:

Fresh Content: Bing
Blended Results: Bing
Organic Relevancy: Bing
Presentation: Bing

Search Query: "Air France Crash"

bing vs. google

Bing Results:

The Bing results are beautiful - just look at them. At the very top the recent news results are provided, along with an image to the left of the results. The most recent news result is 3 hours old. Below the news results it provides 4 news videos, followed by 4 images. The organic web results then begin with a Wikipedia article on Air France Flight 358, which crashed in 2005 and is not the same Air France flight that recently experienced tragedy off of the coast of South America. As this entry is not relevant to what most people who typed this in would be searching for, I'm going to give relevancy to Google on this one (see below).

Google Results:

Google also lists the news results first for this query, the freshest being 1 hour old. However, this does not tell the whole story - as the 1 hour old piece of content is breaking the same news that Bing's 5 hour old news result covers (the discovery of additional bodies). Also, Google news results do not turn up the discovery of the tail section of the airliner, which is the most recent development, although Bing has a result 3 hours old regarding this. Therefore, the advantage here has to go to Bing, for providing not only the freshest content, but for producing breaking news results hours before Google provides them. Google then provides a couple of quality organic web results from CNN and Yahoo News, which is followed by image results and then video results.

And the winner is:


Fresh Content: Bing
Blended Results: Bing
Organic Relevancy: Google
Presentation: Bing

Search Query: "U.S. Unemployment Rate"

bing vs. google

Bing:

For this query Bing provided no blended results. The first two organic web listings are .gov sites followed by Wikipedia and various articles, the most recent of which is the VOA News in position 6 dated June 7 (only 2 days ago), but also producing a 4 day old web result from theregister.co.uk.


Google:


Google provided a nice little graph from their Public Data database, which quickly and succinctly answers most questions one would have if entering the designated query, the data is from May 1, 2009. It then provides news results as recent as 3 days old followed by web results which begin with the same bls.gov results Bing produced followed by the same 2 day old VOA article Bing produced. As both Google and Bing produced the same VOA article as the freshest result, followed by the same bls.gov and VOA sites, freshness is a draw. As to relevancy, I'm going to give Google the edge in this one as it surprisingly did not include a Wikipedia entry in the top five results.

And the winner is:

Fresh Content: Tie
Blended Results: Google
Organic Relevancy: Google
Presentation: Google


Overall Results:


Bing: 7
Google: 4
Tie: 1

Results by Category:

Fresh Content: Bing 2, Google 0, Tie 1
Blended Results: Bing 2, Google 1
Organic Relevancy: Bing 1, Google 2
Presentation: Bing 2, Google 1







About the Author: Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, one of the most recognized search engine optimization companies on the web.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Changing Face of Networking

As SMX Advanced - Seattle wrapped up today, I noticed something. The new business cards I printed up for the event went largely undistributed. I am coming home with only two business cards from other people. A year ago, at SMX West, I gave out a stack of cards and came home with a stack. What has changed? One word: Twitter. And I'm not the only one who noticed it.

I first realized on the last day of SMX that I hadn't given out any business cards. I thought to myself, "Self, you have really failed at networking during this conference." Then I realized I had not failed, but rather the face of networking has changed - and in a short period of 15 months.

As I pondered the reasons why I had not given out cards, I realized that people weren't asking for them. And I wasn't asking for them from others, either. Instead, all anyone seemed to care about, including me, was a person's Twitter persona. I added a motherload of Twitter followers at the conference, and in turn followed numerous people with whom I came into contact.

I'm not the only one who noticed this phenomenon. At the Birds of a Feather lunch, @joannalord and @lisakinnard both mentioned that they had noticed it as well.

In the past, if you did not have a business card, you were not taken seriously. It seems now that if you do not have a Twitter profile, you are not taken seriously. I can hear the song now: "Twitter killed the business card.."

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SMX Advanced Session Synopsis: What's Next for the Search Engine Marketing Business?

Synopsis of the What's Next for the Search Engine Marketing Business at SMX Advanced. Written in real time format.

What clients are looking for as metrics of success:

-Site Traffic
-Increase Conversions
-ROI

Where is search marketing funding coming from?
-new marketing funds
-allocation from other funds
--such as newspapers, other print, other media

For 2009:
12% will spend less on SEM
29% will spend the same on SEM
50% will spend more on SEM

Advertisers are reporting increased interet in both video and mobile search, but are not willing to spend additional money on these, rather would integrate into existing campaigns.

Social Media:
41% use social media in house

2008 numbers: Facebook, Digg, Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon (obviously 2008 numbers don't reflect Twitter explosion)

Near Term Changes in Search:
-Universal search becomes universal
-In 2008, blended results increased from 17% to 31%

What it means for marketers?
-optimize for more stuff, videos, images, books, etcetera
-stiffer competition for search result real estate
-blended results offer customization: geo-location, time ofday, search history, social affinities

What are social affinities?
-It's harder to optimize based on keywords alone
-Context and intent will count more
-Makes SEO more difficult, and makes reputation management *critical*
-Increasingly, search will be a feedback mechanism

Vertical Search Engines
-YouTube is second largest search engine
-MySpace gets more queries than AOL or Ask.com
-eBay, Craigslist, Amazon combined 980 million, approaching MSN at 1.04 billion
-Users are adapting search behavior to appropriate platforms

Mobile search:
-SMS, click to call, mobile coupons, location based services
-Use of mobile apps, e.g. MizPee, TapIt, AAA discounts

Longer Term Search Trends:

-Real time search
-Multimedia will become more searchable (Flash, video, books, audio, images), and more optimizable
--"Who is this a picture of", or "What song is this a clip of"

Location, location, location.
-Search engines offering geo-targeted results
-Geo-targeting important in PPC
-Mobile search: geo-targeting extremely important
-Retail search, e.g. NearbyNow

Devices become more searchable:
-phones
-gps
-tv
-in store kiosks
-refrigerators

1/3 of all Google searches in Japan are mobile.



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SMX Advanced Synopsis: Bing.com Keynote

Synopsis of the Bing.com Keynote session at SMX Advanced. Written in real time format.

Bing is officially launched as of today, preview labels are off.

Bing is intended to make the search experience more efficient and organized. The monolithic search page is a thing of the past.

A search for "Seattle", for example, will show attractions, weather, or information on Seattle. Key idea: understanding user intent, based on semantic meaning and purpose of search.

Understanding user intent and delivering highly relevant and rich results requires immense computational power.

1) Bing produces a search experience vastly more compelling than what has been offered to date.
2) The best way to predict the future is to create it. That's what Bing does.

Microsoft welcomes innovators such as Wolfram Alpha.

The key to Bing is understanding user intent.

Bing is a new brand which only represents search. Bing is short, easy to pronounce, works well across the globe. As it turns out, in Chinese "bing" means "very certain to respond".

What will become of MSN Live services?

-MSN will still be there
-The Live brand will continue to exist, as there is a suite of products, IM, hotmail, Windows Live, etcetera
-Bing will only represent search

There is still much to be done in search. Search is extremely important for consumers and is the means by which most users encounter information on the Internet.

Bing will be extremely focused on ongoing R&D and seeking product innovations. The brand will be marketed aggressively.

Speaker would not discuss plans for Bing acquisition of Yahoo search assets.

What about real time search?
-Bing's results favor fresh content
-Real time search is important. No comment on any deal with Twitter or whether there would be a Microsoft answer to Twitter

Will Bing provide tools for site owners and advertisers, such as Google's Webmaster Central, etc? Answer: Vague...the more user intent can be understood, the better tools can be offered.

The web is a rich place, if a search engine can do a better job of organizing search results, webmasters should be offered tools for assisting them in achieving visibility for their sites.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

SMX Advanced Session Synopsis: Beyond the Usual Linkbuilding

Synopsis of the Beyond the Usual Linkbuilding session at SMX Advanced. Written in real time format.

Some Good Link Sources:
-Audience-targeted content
-Useful widgets/tools
-RSS
-SERP listing optimization

Content which is attractive to links includes:
Public Domain Content (federal, state governments, etc.)
Private Domain Content (fair use)

Project Gutenberg: contains formerly copyrighted works now in the public domain.

Widgets and "blog bling": also known as "information consoles", but beware of "bad practices" when developing widgets - Google does not consider widgets with hidden links as a good source of links. Even "good" links contained in widget code will be discounted, i.e. insertion of widget code into a website is not as clear an endorsement as is a link from a blog, etcetera.

Widget "DO"s:
-Provide widget on the same site it is linking to
-Create widgets thematically related to site where possible
-Provide clear legal terms stating links are included
-Provide layout color options
-Keep your branding minimal
-Provide easy to install code
-Promote widgets

Widget "DONT"s:
-Don't hide links in widgets
-Don't link to another website
-Don't bury mentions of links in legalese
-Don't use redirects or pop ups

Create Content or Profile Links - there are many sites at which you can create public profiles with links for free
-make them look good
-examples:
--Google Knol
--Hubpages.com
--Buzzle

Another source of links may be from clients or suppliers
-offer gift cards or discounts
-offer gifts such as tshirts
-old fashioned US Mail asking for a link
-call them on the phone!
-local and national associations, local chambers of commerce, etcetera

Use links in Video embed code

Ask for product or service reviews from friendly blogs

Contests and Promotions
-What makes a good contest? Generally, it starts with the prize. Make it valuable to the people who you want to enter your contest. They have to put in an effort to enter, so make it worth it.
-Something reasonaly innovative, not a "me too" contest (ie don't just copy what a competitor has done)
-Establish a reasonable time frame, give people time to get involved, but also strike a balance as if the reward is too far away in time, people will lose interest
-Create a buzz: panel of notable judges, press releases, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etcetera



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SMX Advanced Session Synopsis: Proving Social Media's Value

Synopsis of the Proving Social Media's Value session at SMX Advanced. Written in real time format.

Benefits of engaging in usersupport forums
--drive traffic
--improve customer service
--test new product ideas/get feedback
--foster online community retention
--visibly provide support
--shows you care
--engage in significant discussions about your brand

Senior Management will always ask: What is the ROI?

--Many companies have "value" for a customer
---but some customers have greater value than others, example: promoters, neutral, detractors are types of customers. Promotors add customers, so have added value; detractors have a negative value.

Calculating Referral Economics:

Positively Referred x Number Referred x Conversion Rate = Referral Impact
78% 3.87 17% 0.5
(these numbers supported by research)
Interpretation: For every 2 "promoters", you will gain 1 referral customer.

Note that social media will not only engage and increase the number of promoters, but also will minimize number of detractors, especially if resolutions are provided to detractors quickly and publicly. Detractors can then become promoters of your brand.

Outreach - "Changing Perceptions"

-reach out to negative influencers
-turn their bad experience into a good one
-incentivize them to make positive noise

(public apologies can go a long way, and this is an example of changing a detractor to a promoter)

-send out coupon codes on variu networks (example: Facebook, Twitter)
-integrate with mobile: use sms texting to build your contacts
--Example: "Hotel Deal: Free Fridays at a Luxury Hotel. Text "special" to 12345"

The true value of social media is seen over time, although it can be tracked via dividing customers gained by social media investment. However, this is truly undervalued, as the present value of social media awareness and brand reputation is nominal when compared to the future value of these things.

--Brand Reputation Value: Priceless
Ex: "when I get married, I am going to honeymoon at your hotel"...person might not be getting married anytime soon, but that is a future customer, with a very low cost of acquisition.

Other ways to prove the value:

-Competitive Intelligence: assess the competition, see what your competition is doing out there
-Traffic is obviously one source of value
-Value can be had in terms of page views, retweets, diggs, votes, comments, links, etcetera.

-Tools like Knowem.com can check your brand across the social web and can register them for you
-leverage social media profiles to protect your brand in the search engines
-use social web to leverage conversations

-->Competitive Data very useful in selling social media
-->There is data is social media




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SMX Advanced Session Synopsis: Duplicate Content Solutions & The Canonical Tag

Synopsis of the Duplicate Content/Canonical Link Element session at SMX Advanced. Written in real time format.

Canonical Link Element:

-Flag Duplicate Content
--HTML tagging
--Embedded in head section of web page
--Treated as Internal 301 redirect

-Announced in 1st Quarter of this year by the "big 3"

What is the Canonical Link Element Good For?

Its best purpose is to revitalize interna discussions about site architecture. The canonical link element is a way to "virtually" eliminate duplicate content.

Canonical tag passes page rank and anchor text.

Use link canonical when dealing with faceted pages: example would be if you have pages where the same product or service has multiple url's.

Canonical tag is not only about removing duplicate content, but recovering leaked page rank.
-Noindex or disallowed pages in robots.txt still build page rank.
-Canonical tag can be used to pass this page rank to the desired target url

301 redirect is favored, but canonical tag can be used in a pinch.

Rel=nofollow will stop flow of internal page rank to non-canonical versions, but does not address existing page rank (i.e. from third party sites, also does not prevent the page from being indexed.

Page rank leakage can occur in each of these situatios: robots.txt exclusions, meta robots noindex, rel=nofollow, xml sitemap exclusion. Canonical tag can correct this (but is still not preferable to 301); except 301's can affect sort capabilities.

**Canonical tag does not work from one domain to another, but may work between subdomains.***

Affiliate URLs
-rarely do they pass page rank or seo;
-run affiliate program in house and use 301 and/or canonical
-some affiliate links will pass page rank, but still should be run in house

Nofollows should not be used to exclude duplicate content, canonical tag should be. But there is some bit of heated discussion on the panel right now about this! Others say nofollow can be used for page rank sculpting..but Nathan Buggia at Microsoft just gave a warning about algorithm adjustment to compensate for nofollow page rank sculpting!




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SMX Advanced Session Synopsis: Social Media and Search Marketing - Not the Same Old Stuff

Synopsis of the Social Media and Search Marketing session at SMX Advanced. Written in real time format. SMX Advanced Social Media Session - Full Post

Google is looking for fresh content and "relevancy feedback", especially when tracking real time and social media results. Relevancy feedback indicators include social bookmarking, but not only social bookmarking in and of itself, but ways in which social bookmarking is used. Factors include upstream/downstream data (visitor paths) and user reviews.

Twitter can be an amazing source of traffic for quick bursts of traffic. It's a great way to get fresh content quickly indexed and trafficked. How? Tweet new contact, utilize well crafted DM's to influential individuals, add a retweet button to the content page.

Control bookmarking of your site. Add a del.icio.us or other widget to your site, in which you suggest or provide the tags, which influences relevancy of your content to desired queries.

Increase the use of your site. Use Javascript suggestion tools, etcetera. Add engagement points, such as video, voting, quizzes, or widgets. Widgetbox is a great way to build a widget without having to get a developer involved.

Utilize the HReview tag.

Why Use StumbleUpon?

--StumbleUpon=Links? Good content can get lots of links and traffic from StumbleUpon.

Use your profile on StumbleUpon to sell yourself. Do you want your profile to be a Persona or a Person? On StumbleUpon, it is better to be a Persona - as users of the site can be political and prejudicial if you are your own person and they disagreed with something that you have done in the past.

Don't just "review" your own site or the same site - or you will likely be perceived as spam.

Be smart about putting your content in the correct categories. This is not to say that only one tag may apply - many may - just make sure they are relevant. Look at what other people are tagging your Stumbles as - then you can edit your tags to include those.

StumbleUpon Tips:
--Avoid patterns - voting, discoveries, shares. Use multiple features of StumbleUpon, don't only submit content from the same few sites.
--Add and make friends - subscribers, testimonials, votes
--Post to Your Blog feature - posts things to your StumbleUpon user blog
--Vote on videos and photos
--Tag and review - don't just stumble. Add tags and reviews.
--Choose a niche - don't be the "all encompassing" profile
--Make your profile "rock" - choose and use right tags, mix it up and look natural.




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